Have you been to Quirino Province? If not yet, then it’s time to include it in your travel plans! This obscure destination offers a lot of eco-adventure activities — including hiking, spelunking, rafting, and chasing waterfalls. Here’s our guide + a sample 2-day itinerary to Quirino for those who are looking to visit on a weekend.
Quirino is unique in its topology and culture. It’s a landlocked province in Luzon, surrounded by the Sierra Madre and Marampang mountain ranges. About 80% of its landmass is composed of mountains and hills — as such, the province is blessed with elaborate cave systems, rolling hills, waterfalls, and rivers!
Quirino has six municipalities: Aglipay, Diffun, Maddela, Nagtipunan, Saguday, and Cabarroguis. Cabarroguis is the capital of Quirino.
I went to Quirino for the first time in 2019 for a 2-day trip. It’s one of the most underrated provinces I’d been to. The whole province has this raw and rugged feel, the places we’d seen were amazing. I feel like this is the perfect area to explore for those who likes backpacking, nature tripping, and looking for still “undiscovered” areas.
How to get to Quirino
Here’s how to get from Manila to Quirino via public transport:
There are no airports in Quirino Province, so you will need to book flights to nearby airports instead.
- Fly to Cauayan (Isabela). This is the closest airport to Quirino. From there, take a van to Cabarroguis. Travel time is 1-2 hours.
- Another option is to fly to Tuguegarao. Then take a van to Cabarroguis. Travel time is 3-4 hours.
There are bus lines that go from Manila to Quirino. The schedule is daily and usually leaves at night, so you’ll arrive in the morning. Travel time is around 8 hours.
- From Cubao, ride a Five Star bus bound for Maddela, Cabbaroguis, or Diffun.
- From Sampaloc, ride a GV Florida bound for Maddela.
- Another option is to ride a bus to Santiago (Isabela Province). From Santiago, there are public transports that can take you to the towns in Quirino.
How to get around
Once you get to Quirino, there are public transports such as tricycles, jeepneys, and vans to take you to different towns and tourist attractions. You can also charter a vehicle for day tours.
My advise is to bring your own car when going to and exploring Quirino because I find the transport somewhat limited.
What to see and do in Quirino
Here are the best places to see + things to do in Quirino. I’ve written them in a specific order which you can easily follow in your map.
Diffun is the gateway to Quirino Province. One of the best things you can do here is trekking and exploring waterfalls.
Ganano Falls is the most sought-after waterfall in Diffun. It’s located in the midst of a mountain and features an amazing 100-feet drop. It can be reached by an hour of trekking which includes river crossings. This is one of the best waterfalls in the country I’d seen.
While on the road in Diffun, you can also see Nagbukel Formation and Nagbukel Tree Park.
Cabarroguis is the capital of Quirino Province. As such it’s also where you can find most accommodations and homestays, as well as restaurants.
Here you can visit the Quirino Capital Complex. This is a government enclave with 2 resort-type lodgings, track oval, and the Quirino Watersports Complex. If you’re looking for a cultural tour, you can check out the Quirino Provincial Museum as well.
A must-do when you visit Quirino is exploring the Aglipay Cave and System. This cave system has 37 chambers, 8 of which are open to guests. The chambers offer varying caving difficulties, but generally this activity is ideal even for beginners.
You can also drop by the Quirino Experiment Station (Department of Agriculture) to buy organic farm products to take home.
Another must-do in Quirino is doing the 2-hour river cruise in Governor’s Rapids. Governor’s Rapids is part of Cagayan River, which is the longest river system in the country. During the cruise, you can relax on the boat while admiring the natural limestone formations, cliff jump from 30-foot rocks, or take a swim in a waterfall inside Bisangal Cave. This is a really fun experience that I recommend not to miss!
Nagtipunan is the largest municipality in Quirino. As it’s the closest one to the Sierra Madre Mountain Range, it features beautiful rolling hills. You’ll see these and other scenic areas when you drive across its zigzag mountain roads.
A popular spot in Nagtipunan is the Landingan Viewpoint, which sits on top of a hill. It offers a view of the green fields and Siitan River, which is also part of Cagayan River.
Diamond Cave is another must-see. In fact, it’s one of my favorite experiences in Quirino. Although the tour inside is shorter than Aglipay Cave, it’s still worth seeing the “sparkling” stalactites and stalagmites inside.
Finally, there’s the Siitan Nature Park. It’s a “cousin” of Governor’s Rapids. It also offers river cruise activity where you can see the Bimmapor Rock Formation.
There are other lesser-known tourist attractions in Quirino, including a number of waterfalls, rivers, etc. I’ve only listed what I believe are the best ones so you can maximize your visit.
2 Day Itinerary in Quirino
Here’s a sample 2-day itinerary in Quirino, for weekend travelers.
For those who truly want to cross off everything that’s worth seeing here, an ideal stay would be 3-4 days.
|Day 0||Travel from Manila to Quirino|
|Day 1||Arrival at Quirino|
1st stop: Trek to Ganano Falls
2nd stop: Visit to Quirino Capitol Complex
3rd stop: Governor’s Rapids
|Day 2||1st stop: Sunrise at Landingan Viewpoint|
2nd stop: Diamond Cave
3rd stop: Siitan River Cruise
Depart back to Manila
This is a jam-packed itinerary, but it’s doable — you need to manage your time well. Make sure to follow your schedule and wake up early!
You can still use this itinerary as a rough guide even if you simply want to go sightseeing.
Here are the rates (Updated as of 2020):
|Ganano Falls||Environmental fee – P15|
Guide fee – P500 (good up to 5 pax)
|Governor Rapids||Entrance fee – P10|
River cruise – P360
Water tubing – P80
Cottage rent: P500
|Siitan River||Entrance fee – P25|
River cruise – P175
Water tubing – P100
|Diamond Cave||Entrance fee – P25|
Ecological fee – P25
Guide fee – 150 (good up to 5 pax)
|Others||Tour guide for Qurino (c/o tourism office) – P500 per day|
Accommodation – depends on room type
If you’re in a group, a safe budget would be around P3500 each person for a 2-day stay.
What to eat
Quirino offers a variety of local dishes.
At D’Fields Homestay, we ate home-cooked meals. They were simple but good! We had black rice and blue rice, fresh vegetables, and delicious ulams.
Here are other food/pasalubong you should try:
- Tubikoy. A combination of tubig, bibingka, and tikoy. You can get this at RNB Tubikoy in Diffun. At first I was skeptical of this pie since it sounds weird to me, but it’s actually good!
- Pancit cabagan and pancit batil patung. Quirino has their own version of Cagayan’s famous noodles. A popular place to get this is MJ Snack and Pancit Cabagan Restaurant, who makes their own noodles.
- Tilanggit. This is dried fish, perfect as pasalubong.
Where to stay
There are hotels and various homestays you can book in Quirino. Most tourists stay at Cabarroguis, which is the capital of Quirino.
We stayed at D’Fields Homestay in Nagtipunan. This is a casual family-owned lodging. I recommend it since it’s budget-friendly and our host prepares delicious local meals.
- D’Fields Homestay: 0906 900 0301
Click here to view other accommodations in Quirino.
Reminders and Tips
- I recommend securing a tour guide via the tourism office. The tourist attractions in Quirino are remote and far away from each other — it always helps to have someone who knows the area. In addition, I always recommend hiring a guide because you’re helping the local livelihood as well.
- A lot of activities in Quirino can be physically tiring. If you’re with elderly or people who do not want to engage in activities, worry not — there is a lot of sightseeing you can do here as well.
Here are some useful contact information:
- Tourism Quirino – Facebook
What to read next:
Visiting Quirino Province? Check out these posts:
- Landingan Viewpoint
- Spelunking in Diamond Cave
- Ganano Falls
- Guide to Quirino Province + 2 Days Itinerary
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Katherine Cortes is a long-time backpacker and a freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).